SAMULI HEIMONENAtlas 16.10.2021 – 14.11.2021
My exhibition's title, Atlas, refers to a collection of maps. The name Atlas was first used in connection with maps in 1595, when the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator published a bound collection of maps. It was not a mere atlas but also dealt with the creation, history and the structure of the world. The purpose of the book was to comprehensively describe the entire world and everything related to it.
Atlas Novus ('the new atlas') is the central work in my exhibition. It is an attempt to outline my visual thinking while exploring more general meanings. I wanted to make a picture of thinking and how we analyse the world. What do thoughts look like? What form would I give to my thoughts that are constantly moving and germinating in new places? Would it be a map? Words? Images? The work contains elements that are familiar from my previous paintings but mostly something completely new: patterns and letters. I was interested in painting the transformation of an image into a letter. The letters in the work do not form any actual words but they are part of the patterns; words are just emerging.
When I was painting Atlas Novus, I looked back on the various bookshelves that I saw in my childhood. Many families had a bookcase that had almost no books. The bookcase would instead be filled with photographs, souvenirs, LPs, cassettes, ornaments, liqueur bottles behind glass doors, and perhaps a few books from a book subscription club. It was only very recently that I realised that this type of bookcase was a sort of simplified image of the world. When one sat down on the armchair after a hard day's work, one could see, at a glance, who one was, where one was coming from and what things were important. Atlas Novus is based on a bookcase that is expanding uncontrollably, trying to pin down the foundation of our entire civilization. It starts with the personal, then moves towards something universal, something we all share.
In my exhibition, I see art as an energetic attempt to understand the world. It is an image created with incomplete knowledge and limited understanding that I can comprehend and that is constantly being updated. The world is too complex for me to understand it as it is. I need lenses, generalisations and interpretations to get a clearer view.
For the painting installation Atlas, I collected and painted several different “protoimages” that are important to me and their sequels, turning it all into an atlas of images. It’s interesting to think about what images motivate my art-making. I inevitably look back to my childhood, to when my earliest and also most profound relationships with images were formed. Images come from images and flow freely through each other. This stream also flows through my art. It is interesting to realise that all images can be traced back to their sources. Images hold treasures.